Angela West is a self-advocate from Virginia.
Last week, major decisions were being made in D.C. These decisions could have a huge impact on our lives. Things like whether or not we can have assistance to see a doctor of our choice, have access to a quality education experience, or have supports in the community. Some self-advocates made their voices heard loud and clear, even to the point of getting arrested!
Now, it’s a new week and we must not let that energy die down.
Many decisions are just at the beginning and the work is far from over.
It’s time for you and I to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. What do I mean by that?
I mean that we, individuals with disabilities, have to be front and center in these conversations. We must not rely on other people without disabilities to tell lawmakers what we need or don’t need! I say that with respect and some hesitation because some of them are my closest friends. But they don’t know what it feels like to have the government tell you that you can only earn a certain amount of money before you lose all your benefits. And if you want to get married, you must go through a long process to keep your benefits. At the end, you may lose them anyway. I hate to be that harsh, but those are real conversations that I have had.
What can we do now? Tell your story! You own that and no one else can tell your story. These stories remind lawmakers how their actions impact our lives.
Be real. Sometimes I think we want to show people we are strong, and we are. But be honest in your struggles because that is when we can grow.
Finally, we must unite. We have a long road ahead of us! Let’s hold our heads up, raise our voices, and lead the change!